by May 1, 2009 0 comments

The open source world has lots of tools for doing different network
monitoring tasks. For example, we install Nagios for event handling and
notification, RRDtool for data collection and management, etc. This requires one
to install multiple tools on a system, which can be quite troublesome.
GroundWork offers a completely unique solution to this issue. It combines the
best open source monitoring and reporting solutions into a single package. It
includes Nagios, RRDTool, BIRT for ad-hoc reporting, SNMP, etc.

Direct Hit!

Applies To: Network admins
USP: A quick to managing your network
Primary Link: www.groundwork

There are various options available for you to deploy this solution.
GroundWork is available in 32 and 64 bit installable versions and is also
available as a virtual appliance for VMWare. In case you don’t want dedicated
hardware for this solution, then the second option is best for you. The minimum
hardware requirement for a professional setup is, 4 GB RAM, 160 GB HDD, 2 CPU
3GHz or better, RHEL 4 or CentOS 4 (or above).

Features and how tos
Once GroundWork appliance is up and running, open its configuration page on
any web browser and login using username as ‘admin’ and password as ‘password’.
It is based on CentOS 5, so incase you need the root credentials then the
password for that is ‘opensource’.

User Management
Let’s start by creating a new user first , who can monitor all the necessary
activity on your network. For this, click on the main menu icon found on the top
left corner and then click on ‘Administration’. Click on ‘Add a new user’ link
provided on the right panel. Provide the necessary details, such as username,
password, authentication mode, etc and then click on ‘Finish’.

With Range and
Filter option, it becomes easier to include or exclude certain IPs from the
discovery, thus saving a lot of time.

Auto Discovery
Next is the auto discovery option which lets you discover all devices that
are connected to your networ, like , PCs, switches, DSL routers, etc. For this,
click on the main menu icon and then click on the auto discovery option. For
discovery of devices, GroundWork uses Nmap, TC,P and SNMP. You’ll need to
provide the range of IP addresses you want to discover on your network. You can
also exclude certain IPs. For this, specify the IP and just select Exclude from
the ‘Type’ drop down option. Once you have specified the IP address range, click
on ‘add range/filter’ button and then on ‘Go’ button. Next it warns the network
admin that the discovery option might have an adverse impact on the network.
Hence it is better to run the discovery when the load on the network is minimum.
Check the accept check box and click on ‘Go’. Once the scan is complete, click
on ‘Commit’.

If after some time there is a new host on the network, then running the
discovery option wouldn’t be a good idea. The ‘add new host’ option would be
better here. For adding a new host manually, navigate to main menu >
configuration and then click on ‘Configuration’. Now click on host wizard link
provided on the left panel. Provide the necessary information about the host,
such as hostname, address, profile and then click on ‘Next’. Specify the host
template, which stores some common object properties and click on ‘Next’.

The Tools option
provides a very friendly UI, which helps you easily figure out the healthy
and unhealthy machines on the network.

In the Status
option, GroundWork lets you view the summary of all hosts on your workgroup
in one glance, such as number of hosts that are in critical state.

Provide the host group that the host belongs to and click on ‘Next’. Now
select the service you want upon that host and click on ‘add to list’ button.
You can also add service profile. Now click on ‘Next’ and then on ‘Save as
profile’. If you want to add more such hosts, then click on ‘Continue’. For
adding a new group, expand the host group node and then click on ‘new’ link.
Provide the host name, alias, add the member into the group, select the
appropriate contact group and then click on ‘Add’.

Bookshelf is a good option provided to the system network administrators.

Tools in Groundwork
Administration – manage
users, packages and roles
Auto Discovery – automation tools for nagios configuration
Configuration – manage Nagios configuration
Bookshelf –product documentation
Tools – monitoring server tools
Nagios –Nagios interface
Reports –insight and Nagios reports
Status – enhanced view of your network
Performance –display data in RRD files as graphs

It is a complete help book, explaining each and every feature elaborately. So
in case you are finding some problem while configuring GroundWork then simply
visit this section. GroundWork uses Nagios for service and network monitoring.

Using Nagios
For accessing Nagios, navigate to main menu and click on ‘Nagios’. This
feature provides a comprehensive view of hosts that reside in the network. It
shows you how many numbers of hosts are down, number of host having critical
problem, etc.

Further, it also tells you the issues faced by services, that are running on
the host machine. Using this, you can also view logs of notifications, history
of hosts, etc. It also shows you status details of all the hosts, like services
running on them on a single window.

With the help of Report option, you can create custom reports, to see details
about the total number of warnings, in a particular period of time. It also lets
you show the managed hosts, groups and services per day.

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